Herbert Smith’s Four-Handed Reel

Here is the tune from January 18th’ class, Herbert Smith’s Four-Handed Reel. Despite the title it is a polka – the ‘four-handed reel’ refers to a dance figure and not to the nature of the tune! It goes rather nicely with Grandfather’s Tune and has a similar descending scale pattern that gives lots of opportunities for turns and triplets, as discussed last week. You can also vary the rhythm in the B part, sub-dividing or combining the notes in bars X , Y and Z.

This tune is a little unusual in that it has an extra two beats in the A music. It might be that this was added on purpose to help dancers get to where they need to be in the dance, or it might just be a quirk that caught on!

Herbert Smith (1892-1961) was known as the Fiddling Blacksmith of Blakeney – you can read about him here: https://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/h_smith.htm

Here’s a slower and a faster version of the tune:

And here are the dots, with the first set of chords:

Here’s the PDFs of the tune, and the alternative set of chords:

Furze Field

A gorgeous tune to go with Cumberland Waltz. Furze is another word for gorse, and this tune/song was collected in Hampshire in 1907 from Moses Mills. I’ve included a recording of the Watersons singing it at the bottom of the page, there the tune to the song is a little different from our tune. Here is a video with a slow and faster play through:

Here are the dots:

Here’s a PDF of the basic tune and chords:

We experimented by adding some turns in passages where the melody moved down by step, and added rhythmic variation by subdividing the last note of some bars. These were either just subdivided (blue), or else the second of note of the pair was changed to a D (red) as this fitted the chords, as is very satisfying on the fiddle! The effect is that you create more rhythmic movement and some forward momentum into the next bar. Here is a link to an example – it’s not a definitive version, it’s just one set of options and the idea is to experiment and come up with various placements that you like:

Classes remain online until the end of October

Following this week’s governmental rulings about meetings of groups of six or more, we will not be meeting in person for classes.  After much mental wrangling, I think that the best and safest thing to do is to keep our classes online.  We’ll reassess at half term, which is the end of October.  I’m really disappointed but don’t think I can justify the risk to all of you or to myself.  Please keep safe, and if you’re not on the list for the Zoom invite, let me know and I’ll email it to you.

Bonus post: two note chords on the fiddle

Here are some videos talking about how to play accompanying chords on the fiddle, as requested last week.  The first two videos are explanations, there are then some hastily drawn chord shapes, and finally some ACapella videos demonstrating the chord sequences and rhythms in context.

Video one – basic chords and rhythms, using Step Back as a reference:

Video Two – slightly more difficult chords and some other things to consider, using Idbury Hill as a reference.  Also, I turned the lights on.


Here are some pictures of the chord shapes:


And finally, the shuffle ideas in context:



New term!

The new term will start again on September 16th, in our usual venue and at the usual time of 7:15.  Prices are going up to £9 per session, as they’ve been at £8 from at least 2017, if not before!  Those of you paying for the whole year up front will be charged £8 per session.  I look forward to seeing you all soon!  Debx

Arrangements for May 27th concert

Here are the arrangements for the May 27th concert at Gunnersbury Park.  We’re playing 2:00 – 4:00 (with an interval), and I’m hoping we can get in before that to have a rehearse and to settle into the space.  We will do a concert spot of our arrangements and a ceilidh spot playing for some dances that I’ll call (I’ll put list up later in the week, though it’ll all be things we did at the Ealing Folk Dance Club).  We may also be joined by a local Morris team, though I need to finalise the details with my contact as Gunnersbury and with the team themselves.

There are full details on the Gunnersbury House page here, including the address and transport links, and details on how to reserve tickets: http://www.visitgunnersbury.org/west-london-folk-band-summer-concert-2/.  Spread the word – tickets are free but you can book, just in case we get inundated!